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Explaining the Universe


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Table of Contents

Preface vii A Note on Numbers xi 1. INTRODUCTION 1 2. PHYSICS 1900 13 3. HEAVENS ABOVE 24 4. CHANCE AND CERTAINTY 43 5. ORDER OUT OF CHAOS 64 6. YOUR PLACE OR MINE 77 7. MANY HISTORIES, MANY FUTURES 86 8. MICROCOSM 100 9. WEIGHTY MATTERS 119 10. STRINGS 136 11. IN THE BEGINNING 151 12. DOWN TO EARTH 172 13. EPILOGUE 188 Notes 195 Glossary 209 Suggestions for Further Reading 215 Index of Names 219 General Index 223

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In this book, a distinguished scientist gives an inside view of the advances of the last century and those that will happen in the next. It is a joy to read. The story is interesting, and John Charap knows how to tell it. -- Mark Kidger, author of "Star of Bethlehem: An Astronomer's View" John Charap introduces the reader to the wonderfully broad range of topics of active research in physics. This book will be inspiring and instructive for students who might be persuaded to look more deeply into physics... Charap enlivens his text with charming anecdotal illustrations. My favorite is the use of a croissant as an example of classical chaos. -- P.J.E. Peebles, author of "Principles of Physical Cosmology and Quantum Mechanics"

About the Author

John M. Charap is Professor of Theoretical Physics at Queen Mary, University of London. He is an internationally acclaimed particle theorist and the editor of "Geometry of Constrained Dynamical Systems".


"An engaging read... This is more than a simple history of physics--it is the story of our changing view of the universe."--Ignacio Birriel, Astronomy "A well-informed, accessible and appropriately non-mathematical guide to the great theories of modern physics, quantum theory and relativity."--Graham Farmelo, New Scientist "Among the slew of popular treatments of modern physics, Charap's effort distinguishes itself by accenting the provisional character of scientific theory... Science students will find the author's palpable curiosity enticing."--Booklist "The scope of this book is certainly ambitious. Charap attempts to cover all the crucial developments of modern physics in the 20th century. He ... gives the whole endeavor a robustness that reflects his joy and pride at taking part in such an intellectual exercise... Explaining the Universe is ... peppered with wonderful historical anecdotes about the (mainly) men who made these discoveries. These stories help to make the book a good read."--Pedro Ferreira, Physics World "Charap cuts a wide swath through the physical universe, from the physics of the very large to the physics of the very small... The book is very readable and has excellent photographs and illustrations. It introduces the reader to a broad range of topics from the physical universe on the cutting edge of research."--Choice "Charap's canvas is the whole of physics at the start of the 21st century, including the structure of the universe, the bizarre objects it contains--from black holes to superclusters of galaxies--and the deep level at which it contains order... Charap has an eye on the future as well as on current knowledge. He shows there is a direct link between apparently obscure science and everyday life."--Martin Ince, Times Higher Education Supplement

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